shelf

noun
\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz How to pronounce shelves (audio) \

Definition of shelf

1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objects
b : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure
c : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as
a : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged
b : a flat projecting layer of rock
c : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

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Other Words from shelf

shelfful \ ˈshelf-​ˌfu̇l How to pronounce shelfful (audio) \ noun
shelflike \ ˈshelf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce shelflike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of shelf in a Sentence

Put the vase on the shelf. the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet Will you get that book down off the shelf? We don't have much shelf space.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The above is an excerpt from her new book, So Here's the Thing, from Twelve Books, on shelves March 5, 2019. Alyssa Mastromonaco, Marie Claire, "Alyssa Mastromonaco Explores Her Non-Decision to Not Have Kids," 5 Mar. 2019 Spring is officially just weeks away, giving bathroom stockpilers more than one excuse to clear out packed medicine cabinet shelves. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "5 Drugstore Beauty Staples Every Woman Should Own," 1 Mar. 2019 When did the noble interior wall, a necessary structural element and blessed provider of privacy—not to mention shelf and art hanging space—become the enemy? Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Please Stop With the Open Floor Plans," 28 Feb. 2019 Loeb had three decades of Ivy League professorship and hundreds of astronomical publications on his résumé, mostly to do with the nature of black holes and early galaxies and other subjects far from any tabloid shelf. Avi Selk, The Seattle Times, "Harvard’s top astronomer says an alien ship may be among us – and he doesn’t care what his colleagues think," 4 Feb. 2019 Each year, a new crop of children’s books hits the shelves, promising to enrich the lives of both parents and the kids that read them. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The 17 best kids’ books about design and cities," 12 Dec. 2018 Constantly tidying the dishes on your open shelves. Amanda Sims, House Beautiful, "Kathryn M. Ireland's Kitchen Is A Treasure Trove Of Design Ideas," 22 Jan. 2019 The researchers didn’t survey some popular stores that devote little shelf space to sugary beverages, such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and PCC Community Markets. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Nearly all of Seattle’s soda tax is being passed on to consumers, new report shows," 8 Jan. 2019 Cabinet and shelf space can be hard to come by, especially in a small bathroom. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Tooletries Adhesive Tiles Will Organize Your Whole Bathroom From Sink to Shower," 13 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shelf

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shelf

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

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Statistics for shelf

Last Updated

9 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shelf

The first known use of shelf was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for shelf

shelf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of shelf

: a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed
geology : a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater

shelf

noun
\ ˈshelf How to pronounce shelf (audio) \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz \

Kids Definition of shelf

1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things
2 : a flat area (as of rock)

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More from Merriam-Webster on shelf

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shelf

Spanish Central: Translation of shelf

Nglish: Translation of shelf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shelf for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shelf

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